Chaat traditionally refers to a roadside snack, purchased at a cart or in a small shop in India or Pakistan. In West Philadelphia, it means an inexpensive and delicious meal-sized snack, available for take-out at Desi Chat house or their sister Baltimore Ave. sister, Mood Cafe. Desi Chaat opened in the neighborhood over a year ago, and I finally walked in the door.
Chaat involves options. Lots of options. And sometimes the menu descriptions at Desi Chaat leave a lot of “description” to be desired. I decided to just go for what I know sounded good, which is how I ended up ordering the Bhel Puri chaat pictured above. papris, puffed rice, sev, onions, potatoes, raw mango and both spicy and sweet chutneys. Sound delicious? It was. I meant to only eat half of the huge container, but I kept going back for more. That sweet + spicy combination, along with the crunch + soft textures, was near ideal.
Not understanding how large the servings would, naturally adventurous in spirit, and interested in using my $2 off of $10 gift certificate from Recycle Bank, I ordered the Fruit Chaat. This blend of seasonal fruits (mango, banana, green grapes – well, I guess they are in season somewhere) with a yougurt sauce and sweet chutney was fine, but it didn’t have the kapow of the Bhel Puri. I was able to restrain myself and saved the second half of the container for the following morning’s breakfast.
Two things made my Desi Chaat experience even better. #1: After noticing that my coupon didn’t have an expiration date, the very friendly manager returned it to me to use again. #2 I loaded up the chaat in my trusty bicycle basket and went to Clark Park to enjoy it in the sunshine on the new bright orange park folding chairs!